Caution: Men in Trees
Writers judging writers. Whoever thought this one up? As if one
writer could judge another's work without bias. On the one hand, it's
easy to dismiss something that doesn't actually fall within your own
genre or violates one of the seven deadly sins that you've taught
against all these years. It's easy to dismiss one of those. But when
the writer is particularly good and competes with your own space,
breathes the air that should have been yours, a writer-judge has to
swallow pride and say, damn that's good. Because when you have pulled
apart at all the critical edges and the center still holds, what else
is there to say?
So this year, the award in short fiction goes to a collection that is
totally without humility. You might expect a writer to find one good
metaphor or image and play with it for a while like a cat. No economy
there. You might expect a writer to have one story out of a
collection that easily leads the pack. You might at least expect him
to stumble every once in awhile, please.
But not so. The language of this collection never lets up. Every
story is a downpour of image, a deluge of metaphor, a torrent of
detail. In fact, it is a flood of everything that the judge holds
sacred. So what else is there for the judge to do, but to fall and be
washed away, to struggle and then cling again, and finally crawl, and
gasp, and in a whisper with that last breath of air say -- "Awe. I
could never have written this."